Sunday, September 25, 2011

Goofing Off in History

I’m a sucker for RenFests. Ever since I went to my first one in a far off cornfield in Ohio during undergrad, I was hooked. As I’ve said quite frequently, I’m a big history nerd. I was that little 5th grader giggling into a book about Greek mythology or the 7th grader who begged her parents to take her to Medieval Times for her birthday or even the 20-something seriously looking for a partner in crime to go to the Colonial Williamsburg living museum. Any opportunity available in which I can get my hands on some shred of history (even commercialized or slightly bastardized), I’ll do it. And I’ll jump in with as much gusto and dedicated enthusiasm as my 5th grade self all those years ago. This year’s trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival was no different.

Step one for a RenFest is absolutely the costumes. I fully expect myself to have a complete costume eventually, but for now I settle for the cheap target tavern wench costume with an upgraded bodice I found at a garage sale. There’s no better way to get into the period of it all like physically putting on the clothes of the time. Not to mention, ladies, who doesn’t secretly want to know how skinny your waist will look in a corset.

The other reason for dressing up, besides getting to wear something other than modern clothes for an afternoon, is that you blend in with the crowd; allowing for the best people watching you will encounter. There are all kinds, shapes, and sizes wearing all kinds, shapes, and sizes of outfits. And you can tell that everyone is just having a great time. No judgment, no worries, just unadulterated character egged on by the very interesting people who run the stands and put on the shows.
For example, if you’ve ever wondered how a Medieval court functioned, all you have to do is sit on a bench and take up a yellow sign. Labeled as a Witch or a Thief or, in our group’s case, a Traitor, you can watch the full extent of the law (complete with red ribbon guts and wooden stocks) reign down on those you know or drunken strangers you don’t.

I get a lot of different responses when I tell people I go to Renaissance Festivals—usually jolly and supportive (though skeptical), but everyone has their own preconceptions about what they are and what type of people go there and I’m certainly am not going to change with a few pictures and a blog post. Maybe that means more jousting tournament room for me, or maybe it just means you’ll have to go with me next time. I certainly hope it’s the latter. So please, prepare thyself for merriment!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Weddings of 2011

The summer of 2011, it seems, was the summer of weddings. I went to one in Maine (which I’ve previously posted about here), then July brought a wedding in Illinois, August a wedding in Toledo, and September a wedding in Oxford, OH. And that’s not even counting the wedding in Connecticut or Seattle that I unfortunately had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. Apparently now then was the time to get married, who knew.

The wedding in IL was for one of my best friends. I’ve known this kid since I was born and I could not love him more than as the brother he practically already is. Brother from another mother, sister from a different mister. I was honored to be a bridesmaid for his lovely, now, wife. And, even though pink is not my favorite color in the world, I had an amazing time dancing and smiling and celebrating my “baby bro” and new “sister-in-law.”

Wedding 2 of this post was in Toledo. A Yankee Ohio gal married my Alabamian coworker and it was a blast. For this one I was free to watch from the congregation as he glowed at the sight of her walking down the aisle. Chris is a bit of a goofball so to see that moment of pure, all-encompassing joy for him was priceless. Not to mention they really know how to throw a party, dancing the night away till the wee hours of the morning. I sadly sustained a dance floor ankle injury when one of the very tall, very large groomsman fell on top of me, but even then (after a lot of ice and pain meds) I was able to watch the rest of those boogying down on the floor with pleasure.

The final wedding of the season was easily the most perfectly suited wedding for my friend Joy that there ever possibly could be. Everything from the people she surrounded herself with to the church to the programs to the calico bows tied around the pews were so quintessentially Joy that it made my heart burst with happiness for her. It was all so simple and pure and true. It’s the kind of day that anyone would be absolutely blessed to experience as their own.
A lot of people say that they hate going to weddings. And I can understand how they can be stressful, the amount of work and time just to be a guest let alone a participant is exhausting but I always have such a great time when I’m there that I can never understand the “hate.” They are celebrations. They are unabashed fun. They are, even in the smallest way, surrounded by signs of the happiness that is to come. I know they say most marriages end in divorce and that for me to be so optimistic for myself and my friends is naïve, but I can’t help but disagree. Everything happens for a reason and their, my, our steps down the aisle are leading us to the next chapter of who we are meant to be.

I prefer to stay that optimistic, as there is nothing naïve about the power of hope.